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Cronje’s late burst gives him World Champs bronze

By Mark Etheridge

Multiple South African champion Johan Cronje left it late for both himself and Team SA at the IAAF Athletics World Championships in Moscow, Russia on Sunday.

Thirty-one-year-old Cronje came with a late burst to take bronze in the men’s 1500-metre final and secure South Africa’s first and only medal of the championships.

His time was 3min 36.83sec behind 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop, the Kenyan taking gold in 3:36.28.
American Matthew Centrowitz was a surprise silver medallist in 3:36.78 as Cronje’s last gasp dip saw him edge Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba of Kenya (3:36.87) off the podium.

Kiprop went into the race with a personal best of 3:27.72, six seconds quicker than Cronje’s best (3:33.46) while Centrowitz also owns a quicker time than the South African with a 3:31.96 effort.

But, like so many finals at a World Championship event, the race was a tactical affair with Kiprop taking the field through 400m in in 59.68 before compatriot Chepseba went through 800m in 1:59.24 and 1200 in 2:56.41.

Cronje stuck mainly to the inside lane and at the bell was near the rear of the pack and fairly boxed in. But he held his nerve to keep his line around the final bend and then made his move just after the start of the final straight.

Cronje’s victory will be even more sweet and testimony to his ‘vasbyt’ character, considering the uphill struggle he’s had to regain full fitness. He took months out due to a back injury, then injured his knee during his recovery and more recently, cut short his European tour with a mystery bug that had exhausted him.

Monday’s only exhaustion will probably be due to one thing, post victory celebrations.

Earlier in the day there was more disappointment for Sunette Viljoen in the javelin final.

With her only needing one throw before qualifying automatically with a 64.51 on Friday, she was unable to match her efforts in the final.

She opened her campaign with an encouraging 63.58 but it was all downhill from there as her other four efforts were 56.51, 58.66, 59.00 and 60.25, nowhere near to threatening the podium.

Germany’s Christina Obergf├Âll won with 69.05 from the in-form Kimberley Mickle of Australia (66.60) and Russia’s Maria Abakumova (65.09).

At the last world championships, in Daegu, South Korea, South Africa won four medals.

Cronje’s fellow sports aces were quick to take to social networks to applaud Cronje’s efforts:

Johan Fourie (multiple SA 1500m track champion and record-breaker)
“Medal vir Johan Cronje in 1500! Well done!”

Rene Kalmer (two time Olympian)
“What a race! Big shout out to @JohanCronje bronze in the 1500m. So proud of him and coach DB Prinsloo.ÔǬ#ÔÇÄnevergiveupÔǼ

Kate Roberts (two-time SA Olympic triathlete)
“So proud of Johan Cronje screaming so loudly, he must have heard me in ÔǬ#ÔÇÄMoscowÔǼ”

Nolene Conrad (SA steeplechase champion)
“WOW JOHAN CRONJE, Bronze medal at World Champs !!!!! ÔǬ#ÔÇÄenoughÔǼ said! ÔǬ#ÔÇÄproudÔǼ!”


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